SEO Keyword Density: Lose This Relic and Adopt Best Practices

Greetings to you! With today’s video post, Heather hopes to put to rest that chronic, persistent “keyword density” question: “What’s the best keyword density for my site?”

Having been around the block a time or two for nearly 14 years, Heather has encountered this question time and time again.  Her short answer: there is no such thing anymore!  Here she expounds on why this is so, giving her insight into the history behind the whole stubborn keyword density concept, and how to move beyond this antiquated mindset to relevant SEO copywriting best practices for keyword and keyphrase use:

What’s the best keyword density for your site?

From the beginning of SEO time, this question has refused to go away.  The reason that people think that keyword density is important is because they believe that it is the key to good search engine rankings.  While this was once the case, circa 1999, it is no more.

But before getting into all that, for those who are unfamiliar with the “keyword density” equation:

How to calculate keyword density?

Count the number of keywords/keyphrases on a given page, then divide it by the total word count.  Voila:  keyword density.  For example, a 500-word page with 10 keywords/keyphrases =  a keyword density of 2-percent.

You can party like it’s 1999, but don’t write SEO copy that way!

Back in the (pre-Google) day, that 2-percent keyword density would have been shy of the 5.5-percent we were all striving for to get the top rankings via the (now extinct) Alta Vista search engine. It’s an understatement to say that much changed since then (i.e., Google arrived), and search engines of the day are now looking at other ranking factors and signals, such as social and links.

So there’s a whole host of other things going into the search engines’ algorithmic soup, and far more important things to focus on both for search engine relevancy and user experience.

What you want to do instead – SEO copywriting best practices:

Hope this helps clarify the whole keyword density question for you: in short, it’s no longer a viable question!


7 replies
  1. Tom Pearson says:

    Very good. That presentation could be very useful next time a client needs convincing.

    I get asked about keyword density on an (almost) daily basis. It’s getting less and less important but there are so many people who are stuggling to let go.

  2. Dgraine says:

    I agree it’s not good to stress over keyword density. Keyword density tools do have a use though in my opinion.. they show what words are being repeated more then others.

  3. Julien says:

    Hi Laura, I know this article has been online for awhile now and I hope this comment finds you well.
    I was just wondering what you thought about plugin like WordPress SEO by Yoast.
    I have been using it a lot and it uses the keyword density as an indicator of the optimization of the page, giving warning below 1% and above 5%.
    I know that you say there is no such things as keyword density right now, and I agree, but text quality wise, would you agree that this range is optimal to tell if a page is relevant for the keyword you are trying to focus on and rank for?

    Thank you for your post!

    • Heather says:

      Hi, Julien!

      The best indicator is what Matt Cutts says in his video (and what I’ve been saying for years.) When you finish writing, print out the sales page (or blog post) and read it out loud. If it sounds keyphrase-stuffed, you’ll want to cut down on the keyphrase usage. Exact match the keyphrase, yes, but you don’t necessarily have to do it a certain percentage of the time to gain relevancy. According to Cutts, just one exact match shows Google that the page is relevant for X phrase.

      Google has gotten smarter, and can understand synonym usage and the intent of the page much better than they have in the past. So, pay attention to your keyphrases – and certainly have a great Title. But I would still ignore any kind of keyphrase density range.

      I hope that helps!


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] Remember, there is no such thing as keyword density. If your content sounds “keyphrase-heavy” and stilted, reduce the keyphrase usage and focus more on your readers’ experience. Learn more about the myth of keyword density. […]

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.